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Ryan Johnson, Published August 08 2013

Q98 to move on the F-M radio dial, but keep its format

FARGO – The metro’s top-rated rock station will soon have a new home on the radio dial.

Radio F-M Media Operations Manager John Austin said Thursday that Q98 Rock’s move to 105.1 FM in one week will be officially announced this morning.

Q98’s modern rock format will stay the same, he said, but the move down the dial is part of “fun changes” in the works for the company that took ownership of several stations Monday.

Lite Rock 105, which now broadcasts on 105.1 FM, will go off the air with the switch next Friday, Austin said.

The changes come as the spring ratings were released Wednesday showing Q98 was the metro’s No. 5 station overall among listeners 12 and older from 6 a.m. to midnight. Its 6 market share is up from the 4.8 share it had in the fall 2012 ratings.

A share is the percentage of listeners tuned to a station.

KFGO 790 AM continues to reign supreme among local listeners, commanding a 15.5 share – up from 15.2 in the fall and well above nearest competitor Y94, a pop station that had a 10.7 share.

Vice President of Operations Peter Tanz said officials with Wisconsin-based Midwest Communications, which took ownership of KFGO and Y94 along with four other local stations Monday, were pleased with the ratings.

“What we can tell from this current estimate, people seem reasonably happy with what we’re doing,” he said.

KFGO had a commanding lead over its AM competition, with shares of 3 at both WDAY 970 and 740 The Fan. True Oldies 1660 had a share of 0.4, and no recent data was available for Ag News 890 AM.

WDAY Program Manager Erick Johnson said the station doesn’t subscribe to Arbitron and couldn’t comment. Other stations reported the share drawn by WDAY, which is owned by Forum Communications Co., the same company that owns The Forum.

Spring ratings show some shifts in listening habits, especially with country music. Bob 95, a Radio F-M station, pulled ahead of Midwest Communications-owned Froggy 99.9 with respective shares of 8.6 and 8.2 for the No. 3 and No. 4 positions. The two country stations both had shares of 8.3 last fall.

“It’s been a dogfight in the country battle, and it’s nice to get some separation and some momentum in that battle,” Austin said.

But Tanz said the ratings, while useful for planning future programming and advertising decisions, are still “an extremely well-educated guess.”

The Fox 107.9 saw its share drop from 8.3 last fall to 4.3 this spring. But Austin said the lone classic rock station in the market is still healthy and said “at the top of their game” among male listeners.

He said Radio F-M Media has plenty of big changes planned other than Q98’s move to 105.1 that’s “clearing the deck on 98.7 for something exciting.” But he said listeners will have to wait for more details.

He didn’t offer any new hints about another big change for the company – the future home of popular morning show hosts Jesse and Amanda with Pike, who aired their last show July 31 on Froggy 99.9 before the station moved to Midwest Communications.

Froggy 99.9 launched its new morning show with hosts Shawn and Mandy on Monday.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587